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(LifeSiteNews) – “One day, our authorities will have to face reality, the simple truth that is in plain sight. We are ordinary Catholics who want to worship in the Extraordinary Form.”  

These are the words with which the pilgrims from Paris to Chartres were greeted as they arose on Sunday morning with over 65 km to go before reaching their objective, the French Marian shrine that is the cathedral of Chartres, where the Veil of Our Lady is kept as one of the most eminent relics of Christendom. 

The 40th edition of the Pèlerinage de Chrétienté (Pilgrimage of Christendom) has drawn to a close, having attracted about 15,000 pilgrims from many lands for a three-day, 100 km march from Paris to Chartres over the Pentecost weekend. After two years of interruption because of COVID restrictions, the event took on an even deeper dimension than usual, with 5 percent more marchers than in 2019, despite fewer foreign and overseas chapters. 

What the pilgrims went through this year under unprecedented bad weather will be the object of a later story. For the time being, the focus must be on the dire context of the pilgrimage that has always been faithful to the traditional Latin Mass and the Tridentine liturgy in general. 

Chartres pilgrimage

When the pilgrimage was launched in 1982 at the initiative of a dynamic group of laypeople called the Centre Henri et André Charlier – named for two converts of the first half of the 20th century, a Catholic artist and a Catholic schoolmaster of philosophy – conditions were not good for faithful attached to the traditional Mass. During the pilgrimage’s first years, the several thousand participants would have an outdoor Mass in Paris and then walk to Chartres where the Cathedral “welcomed” them (or rather, did not welcome them) with tightly shut doors. The organizers would set up a temporary platform with an altar in front of the railings at the building’s main entrance, and the pilgrims would celebrate the climax of their three-day walk and its many sacrifices with the awareness of being closed out of the objective of their efforts. 

Apart from an exception in 1985, the pilgrimage was only accepted in the Chartres cathedral as of 1989, after Saint John-Paul II published his motu proprio Ecclesia Dei. Benedict XVI’s Summorum Pontificum was even more welcoming to the traditional liturgy, and many young people who now join the pilgrimage can hardly imagine the climate of liturgical persecution within the Catholic Church 40 years ago. 

Half of today’s pilgrims are aged 20 or less. 

But with Traditionis Custodes, the motu proprio with which Pope Francis placed brutal restrictions on the celebration of the traditional Latin Mass and the old form of the Sacraments, the monster of liturgical wars has again raised its hand against those who find their faith, hope, and charity better nourished by the age-old prayers of the Church. 

With calculated irony, many of this year’s pilgrims wore specially printed T-shirts or sweatshirts emblazoned with the words “Gardiens de la Tradition,” (guardians of tradition), the French translation of the motu proprio’s title. By their youth and their numbers, the waves of young people who walked towards Chartres with their banners and flags, their enthusiasm and their obvious piety clearly showed that they want God, the Eucharist, solemnity, and age-old beauty at the center of their devotion.  

During the Mass on Pentecost Sunday, Canon Merly of the Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest (ICKSP) said in his homily: 

Believe me: your fidelity in finding yourselves today at the feet of Our Lady, on the road to Chartres, your fidelity in uniting yourselves to the perennial liturgy of the Church, your ardent desire to unite yourselves to the Sacred Heart, the patent sign of the love that Jesus Christ bears for his weak creature, this is what God expects of you. If Jesus Christ is king of Creation, it is not only by virtue of his natural suzerainty, or by virtue of the suzerainty he acquired at the summit of the Cross, which is also the summit of his love. He is also king in another capacity! He is also king ‘by the free and joyful suffrage of our love.’  To continue to love him, therefore, we must also cultivate in ourselves this spirit of true Christian freedom: that of the heart, of the mind, of the will, which makes us ‘obey God rather than men.’

At the end of the pilgrimage, in the presence of the Bishop of Chartres, Monsignor Philippe Christory, Father Alexis Garnier the general almoner of Notre-Dame de Chrétienté, also called on the pilgrims to remain faithful to their “two loyalties: tradition and the Catholic Church.” Both are so clearly under threat, and indeed, the packed cathedral surrounded by thousands of pilgrims who were not able to enter for the final Mass for want of space, was a living reproach against the attempt by Traditionis Custodes to push the traditional Latin Mass into a dark corner, as an exception that must be given minimum publicity. 

On Sunday morning, at the pilgrimage’s first bivouac, Jean de Tauriers, president of “Notre-Dame de Chrétieté, gave a rousing talk that also proclaimed the rightful desire of the many thousands of participants to be able to practice in the traditional form. Here below is LifeSite’s full translation of his words. 


Dear pilgrim friends,

What a joy it is to be with you again today, on this Pentecost Sunday, for our pilgrimage of Christendom!

What a joy it is to be celebrating our fortieth anniversary together with you!

The adventure of this pilgrimage has spanned the years, generations have followed one another since 1983. The older generation experienced persecution and then liturgical peace under Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI. The young pilgrims are discovering with amazement the bitter coldness of the motu proprio Traditionis Custodes and of the responses of the Congregation for Divine Worship, with their array of restrictions, punishments, bureaucratic details, and threats.

Just look at you, dear pilgrims: you are clearly nostalgic for a bygone era!

It’s so obvious: you want to live in ghettos on the sidelines of the Church!

But seriously, half of you are less than 20 years old. Your grandparents did not even know the period preceding Vatican II.

One day, our authorities will have to face reality, the simple truth that is in plain sight.

We are ordinary Catholics who want to worship in the Extraordinary Form.

Pilgrims of Christendom, during these three days of Pentecost, you are here to make a spiritual retreat of conversion. This is about your eternal salvation, and nothing in your life is more important. You have come to pray, and you want to pray according to the Tridentine liturgy, in the traditional form, hence your presence at this pilgrimage. You also are here to meet and listen to the priests, religious, and seminarians who provide spiritual guidance. You have come to encounter the grace of God during these three days and to “shout the Gospel” as Saint Charles de Foucauld urged.

Is this so hard to understand?

The recent restrictions that have prevented some diocesan clerics from coming to the pilgrimage are distressing, and we are deeply saddened by them. We are in prayerful union with all those who have been barred from joining the pilgrimage of Christendom.

Dear pilgrims, you are not responsible for the current crisis in the Church, for the disappearance of religious practice, for the empty seminaries, for inconsistent catechisms, for prevailing relativism.

You are not responsible for compromise regarding Catholic morality, nor for the failure of instruction. You are not responsible for the prohibition of public masses, ordinations, sacraments, and even of cassocks, be it because of Covid or of Traditionis Custodes.

You have inherited this Godless society. You must raise your children and transmit the faith for their salvation, which involves your own.

How can you be faulted for choosing traditional parishes, priests, catechisms, and schools in the present situation?

We beg the Holy Father to look at the daily life of Catholics.

We are not subtle theologians, or great exegetes of the hidden intentions of Vatican II, nor are we sophisticated liturgists. We are simple Catholic families who want to remain Catholic in a world that is no longer Catholic.

All the pilgrims, both walkers and guardian angels, will pray for the intentions of the Holy Father, our bishops, and the Church, so that we may not be deprived of the sacraments and that our priests may exercise their apostolates in peace.

On this beautiful feast of Pentecost, I know that you are not lacking in that hope which, as Saint Paul tells us, “confoundeth not: because the charity of God is poured forth in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost.”

In this year which is so important for us, we have chosen to celebrate the Sacred Heart, hope and salvation of nations. The Sacred Heart is a devotion for our time, it is the heart of God that bends over man, a descent of God moved by compassion for humanity.

In this year which is so important for us, we have chosen to celebrate the Sacred Heart, hope and salvation of nations. The Sacred Heart is a devotion for our time; it is the heart of God that leans over man, a descent of God moved by compassion for humanity.

In 2023, next year, we will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the law declaring the construction of the Sacred Heart of Montmartre a shrine of Eucharistic adoration and divine mercy, in the interest of the public. We will also celebrate the 100th anniversary of the completion of its construction in 1923.

Not everything was better in the old days, but we love that time when the Republic encouraged the construction of churches and put God above human laws.

Today we understand better how accurate the words of Saint John Paul II were when he warned us that “A democracy without values easily turns into open or thinly disguised totalitarianism.”

The Holy Father has just given us an example with the consecration of Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Why do not the bishops of France consecrate their dioceses to the Sacred Heart next year on the feast of the Assumption?

Nothing would seem more urgent.

I would like to conclude by speaking to you about your association, Notre-Dame de Chrétienté, which is responsible for organizing the Chartres pilgrimage.

We need your prayers, first of all, but also helping hands, brains and financial support.

Dear walking pilgrims, I am addressing you first. Please remember to thank the wonderful young people (and the not so young as well) of the different support services who make this pilgrimage possible.

Dear pilgrims from the Support Services and other NDC services, please remember to thank the pilgrims for their prayers. They are your successors of tomorrow; be good recruiting sergeants!

Please support Notre Dame de Chrétienté. Follow our activities throughout the year: retreats, trainings, recollections, universities.

Please be present on October 8 at the Thanksgiving Mass at St. Roch Church in Paris for our 40th anniversary.

Get involved as an evangelizer in the Emmaus chapter. Go with them to the peripheries! You will not be alone; 20,000 pilgrims will pray with you. With St. Charles de Foucauld this afternoon, let us pray that they will be able to touch hearts.

Among the many intentions this afternoon, I ask you to pray for a mother, a great friend of the pilgrimage, who is very ill, and for Gaultier.

Do not forget our friends, who were very close to NDC and who were recently called to return to God: Madame Pozzetto, Commandant Beth, Eric Angier de Lohéac, Christine Rudent, Dominique Neveu, Eric Van Rie, Jean-Pierre Hachard, Didier Raynal, Agnès Artur, Hervé and Herrade Pinoteau. Sorry for those I have forgotten.

Our Lady of Holy Hope, convert us, Our Lady of Paris, pray for us, Our Lady of Chartres, pray for us,

Jean de Tauriers

Photographs republished with the permission of Notre Dame de Chrétienté 

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Jeanne Smits has worked as a journalist in France since 1987 after obtaining a Master of Arts in Law. She formerly directed the French daily Présent and was editor-in-chief of an all-internet French-speaking news site called She writes regularly for a number of Catholic journals (Monde & vie, L’Homme nouveau, Reconquête…) and runs a personal pro-life blog. In addition, she is often invited to radio and TV shows on alternative media. She is vice-president of the Christian and French defense association “AGRIF.” She is the French translator of The Dictator Pope by Henry Sire and Christus Vincit by Bishop Schneider, and recently contributed to the Bref examen critique de la communion dans la main about Communion in the hand. She is married and has three children, and lives near Paris.